Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Democracy in Action - Maine Style

Well, it's time for a report on life in Maine.  I don't normally post too much about family or personal life here, but tonight was one for the books.  Bob and I moved here to retire and take it easy, but we seem to have forgotten the "take it easy part." Tonight, at our Annual Town Meeting,  Bob was  elected and sworn in by our Town Clerk to a three year term as Selectman, Assessor and Overseer of the Poor for the Town of South Thomaston.

And for a history lesson, here is the original ballot box the town has been using for over 100 years.  All ballots are hand marked, the voters must come forward individually and drop their ballots in the box, and then the box is closed (that top board that looks like a bread board slides in across the top).  In state and national elections, you go into a closed booth, mark your ballots and then come outside and put them in the box.

Tonight, in less than three hours, not only did about 100 citizens (from really young un's with babes in arms to nonagenarians) elect a selectman, we also elected a school board representative, passed a new ordance (town law)-- and repealed the old one-- about cemeteries, passed a moratorium on allowing a methadone clinic in town until the selectmen can come up with appropriate land use guidance, passed a resolution continuing our participation in a six town shellfish consortium, and  passed a budget of over $800K to run the town for one year, including such items as planting trees in the cemetery, paving some roads, resurfacing the tennis court, giving the library $1200, etc etc etc.  We voted to empower to selectmen to decide if and where to erect memorials to various citizens (private donations have been offered to pay for them). We even voted to give 7 town employees a whopping raise of about $337 a year for each of them.  And no shouting, name calling, or booing.  Cookies, cakes and coffee were served by the Fire Dept Auxiliary, plaques (and a cool plant!) given to the retiring selectman, and the new ambulance dedicated to the lady who has run the service for 35 years!

All in all, while I'm glad it only happens once a year, it's truly a satisfying exercise in being a real American, and for Bob, as a retired history/social studies teacher, it's a chance to practice all that stuff he used to teach. 


  1. wow...will it be Governor of Maine next? Can he fix parking tickets? lol

  2. Local politics in Maine - I remember it well. I also loved the caucus meetings before national political conventions. There is always one guy or woman in town who suspects everyone of everything and won't shut up, but otherwise people are orderly and cooperative.


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